Moving from Landfill to Integrated Waste Management (IWM) System in Malaysia : Status and Proposed Strategies

Keng Zi Xiang, Sumiani Yusoff, Khadijah Md. Khalid


Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) in Malaysia has a high percentage of perishable organic fractions (OF) such as food waste and green waste which account for 60% - 80% of total MSW by weight. Organic Fraction of Municipal Solid Waste (OFMSW) typically food waste contributes to the high moisture content and low calorific value in MSW. These characteristics of MSW are the major obstacles to the introduction of thermal treatment facility. The disposal of OFMSW in landfills creates negative environmental impacts with the high production of landfill gas and leachate as the local climate of high precipitation. The release of methane gas from landfills to the atmosphere and the long hauling distance make waste management sector one of the largest carbon emitter in the country. As an active waste, OFMSW has to be separated at source and undergoes biological treatment for energy and nutrient recovery. The high energy content of OFMSW promises a great potential in biogas recovery especially with the local climate. Therefore, separation at source with a wet – dry basis or the separation of OFMSW at source is the pre-requisite toward achieving an Integrated Waste Management model in Malaysia. The paper discuss the unsustainable MSW disposal in landfill, drawback of thermal treatment of MSW, the vast potential of biological treatment and proposed strategies in moving toward IWM model in Malaysia.

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